Archive for the “house” Category

After the complete failure in every way of my attempt at tuck lace, I decided to go back to fair isle and make... something. A wrap? a scarf? A very large swatch? Whatever. I picked out some of the coned cotton that Dawn gave me and cast on, and before I knew it, I had 300+ rows of error-free (if a little loose) knitting.

Holding up the right side of a purple and white piece of knitting in front of the machine, which has the work hanging from the needles with the wrong side facing the camera.

It didn't take long for me to decide that this cotton is too heavy to be a good scarf, this piece isn't wide enough to make a comfy wrap, and therefore I should put buttonholes in the second hem and make it into a pillow cover. So I guess I'm going to learn to make buttonholes! Mom has a multi-generational button box, and I bet I can find something quirky and cute to use. The real trick is going to be deciding which ones, I'm sure.

My new machine didn't come with an instruction manual (I knew that before I bought it.) The book's available as a scanned pdf online, but I was getting frustrated at trying to flip back and forth between pages, so I bought a used copy and I can already tell that it will be helpful. I also found a pdf version of a book called "Brother Knitting Techniques," which is currently open to a set of pages with instructions on how to make buttonholes several different ways.

The difference in complexity between the KH230 carriage and the KH940 carriage is pretty significant:

The underside of two knitting machine carriages, one significantly more complex than the other.

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At Thanksgiving, the annual family reunion, one of my cousins mentioned the rainbow pillow I knit last summer. "Can you make me two of those?" he asked. I tried to explain that just the one had taken me nearly two months of crafting time. "I'll PAY you," he said. I asked if I could maybe sew pillows for him instead. "What's the difference?" he asked - and with that, I knew that sewing would be just fine.

I bought pre-cut strips of fabric from Amazon:

First I pressed them flat...

...then sewed the strips together in rainbow order, and pressed the seams down. (True, pressing them all in one direction rather than open/flat might not have been the best decision. But it worked.)

From each long rainbow, I cut two squares and sewed them together all the way around, and I even managed to set in mostly-invisible zippers on the purple sides, which seem like they'd be the bottom and therefore the most hidden.

(I'm pretty pleased about the zipper.)

My cousin will be buying the inserts, because it's way easier for me to bring him pillow cases than actual pillows. But even unstuffed, I think they look pretty good!

I usually curse and grumble a lot when I'm sewing, but this project went surprisingly well. Both pillows were done in an afternoon (I'm sure if I were better at this, it would take even less time) and I only had to rip out one super-crooked seam and try again. I even have some leftovers to play around with - not enough for a third pillow, but enough for a piece of wall-art or something. Hmmm, if I cut them on angles... and then turn one upside-down... and sew it all back together... that sounds fun, doesn't it?

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The pillow form arrived during the first weekend of the Tour, and I used some leftover handspun Jacob in a medium gray shade to crochet the two sides together. I'm really pleased with the finished product! My original thought had been to make a felted pillow, but I liked the feel of the fabric - and the size - so I just left it alone. It's heavy and squooshy and comfortable, and looks great on the black leather couch - though its final home will probably be on the futon in my office. This project was fun from start to finish; I got a lot better at longdraw spinning and then it was such a good feeling to knit a quick and easy project with my own handspun yarn on big needles.

The first week of the Tour went well, and then I crashed - but I'll write about that next time. Meanwhile, I'm playing yarn chicken with the socks I started last fall, and I think it's a losing game. I'd anticipated this, so when I grafted the first toe shut I didn't pull the stitches tight. If I have to rip out that toe for the extra yarn I will, and then both socks will be given contrasting purple toes. Not what I'd hoped for, but that's how it goes sometimes.

The safety pins on each sock are keeping the rows lined up, so I don't have to count over and over again to get my socks the same length. This is Socks that Rock lightweight in the Smokey Mountain Morn colourway, and it's the second STR pair I've made that isn't going to cover my toes. (I made these shorter though! and with fewer stitches around! Hrmph.) I have one more skein of the yarn and I'll remember next time to just make contrasting cuffs/heels/toes...

Meanwhile, I've been super busy! I bought a new (slightly used, but new to me) car and sold my old car last weekend, then started a new job on Monday, and I'm excited about both those things - but so drained from having two adventures in one week. Last night when it was still too early to go to bed, but I was too tired to do anything that required any mental effort, I pulled out some Lang Jawoll sock yarn that a friend sent me. She'd somehow made a tangled mess of the skeins without ever knitting any of it... but now they're all detangled, wound into loose cakes, and added to my Ravelry stash.

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I'd set myself the goal of finishing both sides of this rainbow pillow before the Tour de Fleece begins, and I made it by just a few hours - and a few yards of yarn short, which is totally okay. I slipped in a few rows of gray, also handspun, that I plan to use to edge and seam up the sides anyway.

A pillow form has been ordered and it shouldn't take too long to finish this up once it arrives. Meanwhile, I can start the Tour tomorrow morning with a clean conscience!

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I totally rocked my Saturday.

There was a lot to do: garbage dropoff, a trip to the hardware store, grocery shopping, fishpond maintenance, cat brushing and yardwork. To be honest, it was a little overwhelming to face a day like this for the first time on my own. But I sat myself down with a cup of coffee (which I made without any sort of coffeemaker at all, because all the coffeemaking devices left with Pirate-Ex, but which was awesome nonetheless and possibly even more awesome for not needing a specialized device) and told myself, "Self, you can be anyone you want to be. Do you want to be someone who goes wah wah wah I can't do this it's too much, I hate being a girl in a hardware store and I know nothing about fishponds or do you want to be someone who goes HECK YEAH (I may have used a stronger word than 'heck') I can TOTALLY do all this! RAWR! I am going to STEP UP!

In a move that should surprise absolutely no one who knows me, I chose RAWR over wah wah. (Useless trivia: my desktop computer is named RAWR.)

And to reward myself for being RAWR I stopped at the local artsycrafts store and bought the sock yarn I've been ooh'ing at - do those stripes say "I want to be Jaywalker Socks"? Maybe! or maybe they'll just be plain socks! - as well as three colourways of Sugar and Cream for washcloths and a new swiffer mop cover as the old one doesn't fit quite as well as I'd like anymore. The mere thought of knitting anything else in cotton makes my fingers seize up in protest, so I'm going to make up a crochet pattern for it if I can't find one I like.

(Conveniently, I had a 20% off everything coupon for the artsycrafts store in my pocket.)

I expected the cats to get between my camera and the yarn, but for the most part they were quite well-behaved. Kipling snuck into the frame once or twice...

Anyway, it was such a successful day. I tossed garbage bags and didn't hesitate to ask for help in the hardware store and bought only healthy groceries within my budget, and I fixed the fishpond all by myself without even getting too wet, and raked leaves and cleared two flowerbeds and I even ran up the driveway, and despite (because of?) all this activity my back isn't even complaining too much. Also, I brushed the cats, since they're shedding for springtime. One cat absolutely loves being brushed and the other only barely tolerates it. Can you guess which cat is which?

Oh yeah, so making coffee without any coffee-making devices! You'll need a heat-resistant glass measuring cup (I'd say a Pyrex, but mine's actually Anchor Hocking. Either way, one of those.) and a good strong paper towel, like Viva. Add the right amount of boiling water into the measuring cup. Now, you don't actually want your water to be boiling when you put the coffee in; you want it to be a few degrees less, but when the water hits the glass it'll cool down just enough. Then put coffee on top of the water. The general recommendation is for two tablespoons of coffee per eight ounces of water (about 240 ml). Don't stir for 90 seconds, just let it float and bloom on top of the water. Then stir and wait another 90 seconds or so. The coffee shouldn't be in the water for more than four minutes total, or it'll get bitter. Pour through the paper towel into your mug; most of the grounds should have already sunk to the bottom of the measuring cup anyway. Et voila, coffee sans coffeemaker!

I bought more coffee at the grocery store. I'm determined to perfect this method. My first attempt was strong but sour; the suggestion I found was to use *more* coffee rather than less to avoid sourness.

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Hello, 2011! I think you and I are going to get along quite well. The year started off just right, waking up with two little kittens snoogled up to my legs. (Sorry for the crappy quality of the cell phone picture.) Now it's time to light a fire under myself, because I have lots of plans for the year ahead!

First of all, I know of four babies who are going to be born in the first half of the year, and I'm planning to make something for each of them. I'm well on my way to finishing a (secret) gift for the first one; I've already bought the yarn for the second and third and I have sweater patterns picked out. But I have no idea what I'm going to knit for the fourth baby, who is due to arrive in May. Something autumn-ish in a six-month size, perhaps, or maybe a toy.

Second, I want to learn a new skill this year: I want to learn to crochet. Not just to put edging on a hat, but to actually make things with a hook and tangly stuff, rather than pointy things and tangly stuff. There's a bunch of kitchen cotton in my stash waiting to be made into new Swiffer mop covers, and I keep eyeing this Prairie Star afghan as something I'd love to have over one of the guest beds. (Hm! Maybe I will crochet a toy for the fourth baby, and kill two birds with one stone.)

Third, this year I am going to finish all the projects that are currently in progress. It's time to get them done and move on, no matter how much I might dislike working on them. Maybe even the hibernating projects, like the Ostrich Plumes lace.

Fourth, I am going to design, knit, and publish a new pattern this year. It may be socks, or armwarmers, or a one-skein fingering-weight shawlette.

The fifth one is the real biggie: There are two rooms in my basement. The front room has gym equipment and a guest bed futon in it, as well as a TV for watching while working out. The back room has the washer and dryer, but other than that it's been sort of a landing spot for unwanted things since we moved into the house three years ago. I want to rebuild that room into a crafting space. Pirate-Husband is totally in; he wants a space in which he can do leatherwork. How awesome would it be to be able to work in the same room on our projects? To be able to leave the carder or the sewing machine out and not worry about a cat shredding anything in the night? To have a dedicated carding station! And one for leather! And one for drawing, too! To have a lightbox setup that will make it easy to take great pictures! I want to make it a cozy and inspirational space, a room that I'd want to hang out in, a room that just calls out "spend time here! do wonderful things!"

In closing, I'm going to share with you the New Year's wish that Dad sent, because I think it's just perfect:

I hope that all of you have a new year filled with happiness, and health.
Set your goals, set your sails and head off.
Let honor and goodness be your guides
Let peace and respect be your muses
Enjoy the journey as much as reaching the destination.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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Everyone knows that the yarn diet goes out the window when a friend announces a pregnancy, right?

I'm pleased that the solid red matches the red in the variegated colourway so well, and I'm curious to try knitting with this yarn. I generally don't like cotton yarn, but it's so good for babies' sensitive skin. This yarn, Cascade Fixation, has 1.7% elastic in it. Will that help mitigate the harshness of knitting with cotton yarn, or will the elastic only make it even harder to knit up?

There's really not much to blog about the project yet, since the yarn is still neatly wound up just as it came from the store. It will soon become a little hat and a pair of booties, but first I want to finish the Timey-Wimey socks. The baby isn't due until late December, so I'm not hurried at all.

In non-knitting news (there's such a thing?) I've mentioned a couple of times that I live on top of a mountain, and I thought it might be nice to share the view from my window. It was just luck that I had my camera on the table with me, since it's usually nowhere in sight. But I'd just taken the pictures of the yarn and still had the camera out. When I saw the deer drinking from my fishpond, I grabbed the opportunity to shoot this quick video. Hope you like it! :)

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Spinning NichePirate-Husband is starting to complain about my yarn and fiber stuff being everywhere. To that end, this weekend I'm going to begin the renovation of my room. First, everything needs to be taken out of it. Then, I'll paint the inside of the closet white, so that it's easier to see stuff in there. I have a half-gallon of white paint left over from when we did the bedroom closets, or I wouldn't bother. We're going to replace the bowed particle-board shelves with wooden ones, and build a corner desk that fits underneath the loft. I have to pick a color to paint the room, and we'll do that too. The high ceiling might be tricky, but I think we can do it ourselves. Once things are done, I can hang out in there instead of in the master bedroom! I think the wheel and carder will still live in the master bedroom, since there's a perfect little niche for it there (and not enough space in my room), but the rest of everything will have a new home.

The room isn't very large, as the ceiling slopes down to the floor, so I'll be looking for the most space-efficient way to arrange things. In addition to the yarn and fiber collection, there's a half-ton of other art supplies, many books, and two computers (a laptop and a desktop) to manage. I love organizing, although I'm not always very organized, so I'm looking forward to buying little baskets and things to keep all my stuff in.

What does this have to do with knitting and spinning? Not much, really, other than that I'll be able to better organize my yarn, fiber and patterns. A well-designed, welcoming workspace in nice colors will make me more likely to spend lots of time in it. If you were building a work area that was going to be for computering, other art, and also knitting, what would you include? How would you set it up?

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I finished re-knitting the heel on my not-so-quick socks this evening, then put it in my purse for tomorrow's road trip to New York. We'll be visiting Pirate-Husband's family for the weekend. I'm pleased with the way it came out; it's much more even this time.

Now it's back to Mom's glove. I'm cranking through the thumb gusset tonight. My schedule has me finishing the hand by Sunday evening and all the fingers by Wednesday evening. I know I can do this if I don't let myself get distracted!

One distraction today was the fog which rolled up after the afternoon's rain. I am continually amazed at the beauty which surrounds us up here, and so grateful to live on top of a mountain! It's hard to believe that we've had the house for almost a year already. Yesterday was Pirate-Husband's birthday. Coincidentally, yesterday we bought a Mazda Miata. If he'd like to think of it as his birthday present, I'm not going to stop him!

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"What have you knit this year?" Pirate-Husband asked me last night.

A Cunning HatFirst there was the Jayne hat that I knit from Knitting Ninja's pattern for friend Otel. This was a quick project. I had to borrow needles for it, which have since been returned. Although I probably have enough yarn for a second hat, I need to get the right size needles before I can knit it up. Not that I know anyone who wants a Jayne hat... I already have one, and Otel is the brownest browncoat of all my friends.

With the Buttons Then a Baby Surprise Jacket for friend Gwen's second baby, a little girl. I loved the 100purewool yarn I used for this project; it is so soft and easy to work with! The pattern got tricky a few times, but with help from Ravelers I worked through it. I finished knitting only minutes before my deadline, but Gwen loved the sweater. It should fit on her daughter right about now; I'd love to get an 'action shot' from her to post.

Garter Rib Socks Something for myself, a pair of Garter Rib socks! The pattern is from Charlene Schurch's "Sensational Knitted Socks". I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to get the basics of sock knitting. These socks were knit up in Blue Moon Fiber Arts' Socks that Rock lightweight, and I was short by about ten yards. Fortunately a kind Raveler had some extra in the same colorway that she was able to send me.

swiffer_bottom Something for the house, a quick and easy Swiffer mop cover from Noelle's pattern. This project took about six hours, which is about my tolerance for knitting with cotton. I plan to make several more of these, with an additional pattern repeat so that when the cover curls, it goes over the edges of the mop instead of under. Pirate-Husband mopped the floors this past weekend and was disappointed to find that the cover I'd made had been used but not yet washed; he used one of the disposables instead and afterwards said that mine worked a lot better!

pirate-husband_socks3 I'd promised Pirate-Husband a pair of socks last November, and in July of this year I finally delivered. He has very wide feet and I was concerned that I'd run out of yarn, after my experience with the Socks that Rock, so I didn't make the socks very tall. I had a few yards left over at the end, so I guess it worked out just right! He wears them often, especially now that it's cold out, and I know he'd love to have another pair.

Baby M Blanket After I finished Pirate-Husband's socks, I cast on for the second baby knit of the year. This one was for friend Asa's second child, but as she hadn't chosen to find out the sex of the baby, I had to knit a gender-neutral blanket. Feather and Fan seemed fitting, as did these muted colors. Once again, I finished knitting the night before I needed to give the gift. Once of these days I'll break that habit.

bloosocks_complete I sure didn't break the habit with the Bloo Socks, knit in Trekking XXL for friend Michael. I finished these in the afternoon and gave them to him that very evening. I also didn't learn the lesson of splitting the yarn in half before beginning; I used more than half of the 100g ball on the first sock and had to frantically call yarn stores all over the country to find another ball in the same dye lot. I'll be writing this pattern up in the near future, as soon as I work out the heel and toe numbers in other sizes. There is a shortage of fine-gauge sock patterns out there. These were knit up at 45 stitches to 4" on US size 0 DPNs.

Silkie Glove 1 Mom's gloves will probably be the last completed project of the year. Her birthday present is knit up of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Silkie Socks that Rock in Ravenscroft. She'd requested a colorway that would go well with both her black wool dress coat, and her green winter jacket, so what better than a black yarn with subtle greens that glow in the sunlight? I am using Marnie MacLean's Hooray for Me pattern, just making full fingers instead of partial. I'm sure she'll love them; I just hope they fit!

Eight projects in 2008, not a bad tally! In other accomplishments, I read 23 books in the past year, and I learned to spin on a wheel. Pirate-Husband commented that I should knit more for myself, and I want to commit more time to spinning as well. Those will be my goals in 2009!

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